Hire & seek

Online recruitment has become a staple source of potential candidates for many companies within the Middle East. However, as more jobseekers post their CVs online, local organisations need help to sort the wheat from the chaff

  • E-Mail
By  Neil Denslow Published  April 24, 2003

I|~||~||~|The impact of job boards on recruitment both globally and within the region has been immense. The wealth of data on worldwide sites, like Monster, and their regional counterparts, such as Bayt, means that companies are beginning to throw out paper CVs and focus on candidates that have applied online.

Over 8000 companies have registered with Bayt, and Rabea Ataya, the company’s CEO, believes this reflects a real change in how the region’s companies recruit staff. “Many companies have significantly changed their recruiting strategy as a result of Bayt.com. We have got some companies stating that they get over 60% of their interviewees from our web site,” he says.

One such company is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which has successfully filled three positions by advertising on Bayt. “We’ve been very successful thus far in recruiting administrative staff: an HR assistant, secretary and a receptionist,” says Fatima Seedat, HR manager, PwC Middle East.

Using Bayt has allowed PwC to get on top of the flood of CVs that was threatening to overwhelm the HR department. “Because Dubai is attracting so many people in terms of employment, we are flooded on a daily basis with tons of applications… We [even] get applications from people wanting to enter the teaching profession or the medical profession. It’s clearly people just trying to get their CVs out there,” explains Seedat.

Having to open all of these paper CVs is time-consuming and a dispiriting job when so many of them are clearly inappropriate. Using an e-recruitment tool ends the need to do this, however, because candidates instead have to type their details into an online form. The application can then quickly sort out the patently unsuitable candidates, thereby allowing the HR staff to concentrate on the applicants that have the right qualifications.
“I think that’s really where the benefit [of Bayt] comes in,” says Seedat.

“It can actually do that [filter], unlike if you advertise in the newspaper... [where] the additional hours in terms of sorting through the applications are really cumbersome.”

Bayt boasts 19 different filtering tools that can be used to whittle down applicants. It also offers a series of workflow tools that allow HR departments to sort and comment on CVs, as well as contact applicants. The site also has a database of over 300,000 CVs, which means that it can quickly generate 1000 applicants for an advert. “In a second you will get what would have taken you days if not weeks using traditional advertising,” says Ataya.

However, while this volume sounds impressive it may not necessarily help a recruiter, as even when using filtering tools it can still be difficult to cut the applications down to a manageable shortlist of interviewees. “Even if you do a search on Monster, it’s difficult to break down the information, because people put so many keywords in…. People put banking in their CV 500 times, and they get picked up for every single job, but they are not relevant at all,” says Charles Willson, general manager, ITP Consulting.

||**||II|~||~||~|Industry specific job boards seek to overcome this problem by only listing qualified candidates. These sites work like the large horizontal job boards, but they are more interested in the quality of the candidates that are registered rather than the quantity. “We are not looking to have a huge database,” says James Thomas, managing director of the oil & gas job board, oilexec.com. “If we get 20,000 revolving professionals, we think that will be sufficient,” he says.

Oilexec seeks to maintain the quality of its database by constantly reminding jobseekers to update their CVs, so that it doesn’t lose track of people. Furthermore, it has also introduced a peer review policy to ensure that the people listed meet the standards it requires. “These are the scarce resources and these are the high price resources, so anything we can do to add value to our clients has been well received,” comments Thomas.

Industry specific sites can also offer a better quality of candidate, as only professionals in that sector are likely to have heard of them and registered. This was why Taj TV recently advertised for an editor on the film & TV production sites Mandy.com and tvz.tv. “I wanted to reach a specific group and not a generic group. If you put an advert out to a generic web site you get all these responses from people that have no idea,” says Fred Chow, vice president of operations & outside broadcasts, Taj TV.

Because these sites had a large database of qualified candidates, Taj quickly received 60 applicants. “I put it on there [the web sites] knowing that the feedback I would get would be instantaneous. It was and it was specific,” adds Chow.

The internet attracts industry specific forums due to its global coverage and low costs. It can also be accessed by a huge number of professionals. “The internet is an ideal medium for niche markets of whatever sorts…. It has low overheads, simplicity and niche targeting,” says John Hoare, editor & founder, Mandy.com.

These factors are also enabling companies to bypass third party job boards and develop their own sites. Gulf Air, for instance, investigated using a third party site, but found the information it got was not specific enough to meet its needs. “[If] you want someone for cabin crew [for example], the job board will give you everyone who has been working in cabin crew over a very long time,” comments Fawzi Mubarak, Gulf Air’s recruitment & employee development manager.

This was one of the reasons why, three months ago, the airline opted to develop its own job site using Sniperhire, an ASP model application tracking system, which seamlessly integrates with the airline’s own web site. The site works like a third party job board in that candidates are asked to fill in an online CV. However, unlike a third party site, the airline was able to design a form that exactly met its requirements. In particular, it has a designed a questionnaire for cabin crew, which includes information about their height and swimming ability. As the airlines must hire airhostess that are taller than 1.58m and can swim, those that fail to meet this grade can be automatically rejected without any human intervention.

“All the information is there, and then the system allows me to filter all the applications based on the criteria that is essential to me,” says Mubarak.

||**||III|~||~||~|Globally, there is a trend towards companies developing their own job sites because they are more flexible than third party job boards. “We’re seeing more effort from some of the largest companies to push more people to their own corporate web sites rather to the job board... because they have more control over it,” says Diane Morello, vice president & research director, Gartner Group.

Asking people to apply directly with the company is also an advantage in terms of marketing. “[The job site] builds up the corporate brand,” says Morello. “If you can get people coming to your own web site and creating their own resumes… then you have got people that are actually interested in your company.”

“E-recruitment should be part of the marketer’s tools, not just the HR department’s,” agrees Julian Philips, director, Sniperhire.

Gulf Air has used its web site to advertise senior positions, including a vice president of HR and a recruitment officer. However, its main use has been to streamline the hiring of cabin crew. This is a massive challenge for the airline as it needs to find 100s of staff that meet a very strict set of requirements, so it advertises all over the world. The application tracking system has greatly eased this process in a number of ways. For instance, it has enabled the airline to automate contact with its candidates, so that a message can be sent to 100s of people with just a click of the mouse. This speeds up the interviewing process, as well as ensuring that no candidate is inadvertently overlooked. “[There is] a lot of communication with the people so that nobody will complain that there is no [response],” says Mubarak.

Using an application tracking tool has also allowed Gulf Air to get better reports about its candidate base. It then knows which areas of the world it should concentrate its advertising on, as well as which medias have generated the most applicants. “[The tool means] I can plan my trips better, I can plan my recruitment better, I have all the records I need,” says Mubarak.

Furthermore, because the tool is web-enabled, Mubarak is able to check and update his candidate lists even when he is travelling. “I don’t have to be in my office,” he says. “Anywhere in the world I am able to find the latest developments in my recruitment campaign.”

However, while the job site has greatly eased the processing of applications, Gulf Air has not abandoned traditional advertising, as this is the best way of generating traffic to the site. “Not everyone is looking at the site and trying to find where the jobs are. So the best way to do it is to have an advertisement for a specific job and then ask them to apply electronically,” comments Mubarak.

One of the major advantages touted by the big sites is that they are able to generate this traffic for employers. Bayt contends that centralising all job adverts in one place greatly increases the traffic and therefore the likelihood of finding a suitable candidate.

“If you wanted to open up a gold store, you could open that gold store up as a standalone or you could go to the gold souq. If you open it up as a standalone, the only people who are going to come to you are the people who have heard of you, but if you go to the gold souq you have a far greater chance of getting a huge amount of traffic and therefore succeeding as a business,” says Ataya.

“We are the job souq, so companies — whether or not they have their own site — are coming to Bayt and advertising their jobs as it gets them far greater exposure,” he adds.

This, however, represents a change of tack for big job boards, which have traditionally promoted themselves as CV databases, as opposed to a job advertising medium. Certainly in the US, the biggest job boards have radically changed their business models, and are now branching out into application tracking.

“They are broadening their strategy. Many of them are acquiring companies that are not in the job board field… They are extending into their specialities, but recognising that the job boards are not the point of differentiation that they were,” notes Morello.

Bayt is heading in a similar direction by selling its application tracking technology and acting as an ASP for companies’ job sites including Zayed University. Clarendon Parker is also set to move into the application tracking space by repackaging its own system, which it developed with ICIC Infotech, for general sale.

These moves by recruitment companies and job boards into application tracking reflect wider changes in the industry. The global e-recruitment market is seemingly set for a period of consolidation, as the numerous horizontal job boards around the world are squeezed by the current hiring freeze in most parts of the world. “The [global] market is going to be dominated by one or two very large job boards, and then there are going to be some very specialised occupational or industry focused job boards as well,” predicts Morello.

However, even with the growth of e-recruitment and job boards, technology is never going to completely replace HR staff in the recruitment process. “It’s never going to replace the traditional methods of recruiting, you still need to make personal contact, you still need to do an interview… but what these tools do is improve the business process and cut out all the mundane tasks,” says Thomas.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code